Borno State may have been the centre of the ongoing terror fight, but that is not stopping the Federal Government from carrying on its plan to light up the state.
This indication was given by the Minister of State for Power, Mr. Mohammed Wakili, during the inspection of a new 330/132 KVA substation in Maiduguri, the state capital which was still under construction.
The Minister gave the assurance that the project would be completed by June 2014.
“I think when this substation comes to a reality, some of the epileptic (power supply) we have in Maiduguri will be a thing of past.
“As you can see, the work is almost about 80%. It is slow because of the security challenges that we have there but even despite that I’m impressed, the contractors are doing their best even though at a slow pace”, he said.
He, however, still encouraged the contractor handling the project to “speed up” as the ministry intends to meet its target of completing the project by June 2014. He noted that this was important because the President had been very desirous to make sure that power is reformed, being one of the promises he made to Nigerians.
Right Activist and National Secretary of the Afenifere Group, Yinka Odumakin has rated President Goodluck Jonathan’s two years in office as below par. Mr Odumakin however noted that due to inherent difference in the country, “it is very difficult to govern this country”.
He blamed the country’s woes on a “badly divided nation’’ citing the results of the 2011 general election.
However, Mr Odumakin maintained that there are areas where the government could have stamped its authority “for instance in the area of corruption. Today, corrupt people feel so comfortable that nobody is doing anything to touch them”.
Speaking further, the activist applauded the impact former minister of power, Barth Nnaji made in the power sector but berated the sudden decline recorded after his depature.
He noted that “Now we generating more than we were generating under Nnaji but lesser electricity gets into homes, distribution and transmission. What is happening? He asked.
He also chided the president for not empathizing with the citizens and for ’’scoring himself high” during the presentation of the Mid Term Report of the Transformation Agenda.
The Chairman of the Technical Committee on power sector reforms, Atedo Peterside has denied allegation of corruption in the privatisation of the power sector by governors of Delta, Edo and Ekiti states.
The governors had on Thursday rejected the announcement of Vigeo Power Distribution as the successful bidder for the Benin Distribution Company by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
The states are investors in the Southern Electricity Distribution Company which lost out in the bidding process.
Governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State insisted that the process that led to the emergence of Vigeo Consortium lacks transparency.
However, briefing newsmen on the privatization process in Lagos, Mr Peterside said the allegation of fraud by Misters Oshiomhole, Fayemi and Uduaghan were pre-emptive as the Disco has not been handed to any of the bidders.
He said: “The 3 Governors appeared to be making their “complaint” because they feared that the Southern Electricity Distribution Company Consortium (Southern Consortium), which they favoured, might be edged out of the race to be declared as preferred bidder for Benin Disco by Vigeo Power Consortium (Vigeo). Obviously they presumed the latter to be the likely winner based on the outcome of the televised Commercial Bid Opening Ceremony which took place in Abuja on Tuesday 16th October, which event I presided over.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the NCP has not even declared a result yet and so no consortium has been announced as being the preferred bidder for any of the 11 Discos in Nigeria. At the end of the Commercial Bid Opening Ceremony, I explained that we still had to subject all the bids to a “material consistency/feasibility test” before making recommendations to the NCP.”
Mr Peterside, who said his team needed to clarify on the four allegations made by the governors, noted that “Southern Consortium is the only one of the 16 consortia that participated in the bid opening to have submitted multiple commercial bids for the same Disco.
“Their envelope contained two different commercial bids, both of which were signed by a Mr. Matthew Edevbie. The first bid was dubbed the ‘primary’ bid, while the other was dubbed an ‘alternate’ bid.”
He added that the alleged fraud was “a clear contravention of the Request for Proposal, RFP. We did not make a big issue of this on live TV because both the primary and the alternate bids fell below the bid submitted by Vigeo, and so neither bid would alter Southern Consortium’s ranking on the large screen. Instead, this matter was brought to the attention of the Technical Committee of NCP, which considered the breach and made recommendations to the NCP.”
A legal practitioner and public affairs commentator, George Ekeh on Monday said the major problem Nigeria is faced with is that of committed and selfless leaders.
Analysing the Independence Day speech of President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Ekeh said the 1 October speeches of successive Nigerian presidents is becoming a ritual with a disconnect from the reality on ground in the country.
Mr Ekeh, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the solution to the problem of leadership in Nigeria should start from electoral reforms.
The Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research, Emeka Onwuocha on Monday said the presidency and the administration in power is not interested in deceiving the populace and is only interested in building a standard nation where people based on competent, development and ideas can come together to build a strong country.
Mr Onwuocha, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said President Jonathan has embarked on fundamental reforms as opposed by window dressing of the previous administration.
He said those that criticize the administration of President Jonathan do so based on political and sectional bias.
Watched the video below for the complete interview with Mr Onwuocha.
A columnist with Thisday Newspaper, Simeon Kolawole has said that the former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji took the right thing to have step aside from the power sector since his companies had interest in the sector.
Speaking as a guest in Channels Television’s weekend programme, Sunrise, Mr Kolawole said that though on assumption of office, the minister said that he has ceded his stakes in the companies to a blind trust, practically, this was not possible.
Former minister of Power, Barth Nnaji on Friday assured investors that their interest in the Nigeria’s power sector is protected regardless of his resignation. He also assures Nigerians that the on-going reforms in the nation’s power sector will remain on course.
Mr Nnaji gave this assurance as he formally handed over the running of the ministry to the minister of state, Darius Ishiaku during a brief handover ceremony in Abuja.
He allayed the fears of many Nigerians who have expressed concern over the continuity of development projects in the sector by insisting that structures and institutions are in place to carry on with the reforms and privatization of the sector.
“This is not about persons, it’s about structure. I believe that we did put all the good structure in place,” he said.
The former minister said that the MoU implementation team had been established already and “all that my colleague and the Perm Sec is to simply get them to be active and working. They are capable of delivering all the MoU that we have signed.
Meanwhile Nigeria has recently signed power sector agreements with five giant investors including general electric of the US.
There are concerns over the state of these memorandums of understanding and other on-going investment agreements following the recent shake-up in the ministry.
The negotiation between the Federal Government and the employee’s union of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has been postponed till next week Tuesday. Briefing journalists after a closed door meeting chaired by the Secretary General of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peter Esele said the government continues to insist that the labour union is mis-informed.
“Our position on the matter is clear. We are not telling the government not to privatise or carry out the reform it wants to carry out in the power sector. Our position is, for you to do this, the severance package as enshrined in the condition of service is followed to the letter,” Mr Esele said.
“If government does that, then there will be no problem at all,” he added
The labour activist therefore disclosed that a full representation of all parties will meet on 28 August to find a middle ground and iron out the issues once and for all.
Meanwhile, the employees of the PHCN continue to maintain that the Federal Government must pay its workers the 25 percent demanded for their pension before privatizing the power sector.
The chapter of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) at Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Station, on Thursday staged a protest against what they termed high-handedness of the Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji, locking the entrance to the power station.
The workers, who blocked the entrance to the dam during the protest, accused the federal government of trying to tactically deny them of their hard earned benefit.
The protesting workers carried placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Pay us our full benefit’ and, ‘PHCN say no to military Minister.’
The chairman of the union, Alhaji Mohammed Nagya accused the Minister of high-handedness in the management of the nation’s power sector.
According to Alhaji Nagya, the union will continue to resist the privatization of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and insist on the payment of the workers’ gratuity as contained in their condition of service.
The workers who stated that they were not against the planned privatisation of the PHCN, however vowed to continue with the protest until the federal government revert to the old gratuity plan as contained in PHCN condition of service.
Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Station in Niger state has a power generating capacity of 600MW.
A similar protest held at the PHCN office in Abuja on Wednesday when staff of the Power company accused the federal government of forcing them to sign papers that would compel them to accept a severance pay they do not agree with.